A ”Transparency Report” released by Google shows an increase in the amount of requests from the federal government to “remove information from their services“, according to articles published by both PingZine.com and the New York Times. The amount of removal requests has “greatly spiked in the last year“, according to the article. Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and other companies have combined their efforts, according to PingZine, to “protect their user’s private information from spying government agencies“, as stated in their report.
The federal government submitted 3,846 removal requests to Google between January to June 2013 – they complied with more than a third of them, according to the New York Times report. This is an increase of 68 percent over the second half of 2012 as stated in the reports. Most requests cite defamation, others are concerning “local laws governing religion or hate speech”, but a number come from “judges, police officers and politicians trying to hide information that is critical of them”, according to the New York Times.
Susan Infantino, Google’s legal director, was quoted in the PingZine article to say, “Over the past four years, one worrying trend has remained consistent: governments continue to ask us to remove political content. Judges have asked us to remove information that’s critical of them, police departments want us to take down videos or blogs that shine a light on their conduct, and local institutions like town councils don’t want people to be able to find information about their decision-making processes. These officials often cite defamation, privacy and even copyright laws in attempts to remove political speech from our services.”
It was also reported that officials were “resorting to new legal methods to demand that Google remove content, such as citing copyright law to take down transcripts of political speeches or government news releases“, according to the New York Times.